Lewis Hamilton topped the first free practice timesheets at the Austrian Grand Prix weekend got underway at the Red Bull Ring, with the champion leading a Mercedes 1-2 ahead of Valtteri Bottas, with Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen third at the Anglo-Austrian team’s home event.
The Dutch driver was the first to set a lap time in the session and he was also an early spinner when he momentarily dropped the rear wheels of his RB14 into the gravel at Turn 4. His car pirouetted through 360 degrees but Verstappen was quickly on his way again.
Mercedes then led the way on superfast tyres until mid-session before Bottas then increased the pace on ultrasofts with a lap of 1:05.354s. His time at the top was brief, however, as Hamilton jumped to the top of the order by a considerable margin.
The times then ebbed and flowed as Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel joined the party and split the Mercedes and then Verstappen also found more pace on ultrasofts with his session-best time of 1:05.072.
The Red Bull driver, who is supported by a huge Dutch contingent in Austria, was the pushed to third place when Hamilton restored supremacy with a time of 1:04.839 and Bottas set his best time of the 90 minutes, a 1:04.966 that left him 0.127s behind his team-mate.
Verstapen then finished third, a tenth clear of Vettel. Daniel Ricciardo finished fifth in the second Red Bull, though he was four tenths adrift of his team-mate.
Kimi Räikkönen took sixth place, almost three tenths down on Ricciardo. Räikkönen was the last man inside a second of Hamilton’s time.
Romain Grosjean took best-of-the-rest honours in the opening session with a time of 1:06.028, 1.189s adrift of first place 0.027s ahead of Force India’s Esteban Ocon.
Sauber’s Charles Leclerc continued his recent good form with ninth place and a time of 1:06.215, while Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly rounded out the top ten. 1.555s on Hamilton’s best.
2018 Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 39 1:04.839
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 39 1:04.966 0.127
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 42 1:05.072 0.233
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 29 1:05.180 0.341
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 22 1:05.483 0.644
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 31 1:05.776 0.937
7 Romain Grosjean Haas 31 1:06.028 1.189
8 Esteban Ocon Force India 40 1:06.055 1.216
9 Charles Leclerc Sauber 31 1:06.215 1.376
10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 36 1:06.394 1.555
11 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 32 1:06.400 1.561
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas 23 1:06.404 1.565
13 Carlos Sainz Renault 29 1:06.427 1.588
14 Sergio Perez Force India 42 1:06.455 1.616
15 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 35 1:06.479 1.640
16 Lance Stroll Williams 32 1:06.567 1.728
17 Fernando Alonso McLaren 30 1:06.612 1.773
18 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 30 1:06.698 1.859
19 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 45 1:06.871 2.032
20 Robert Kubica Williams 38 1:07.424 2.585